This Tech Kickstarter Has Completely Transparent Finances

Image: Woodenshark

Woodenshark is the company behind the successful Lightpack Kickstarter campaign from 2013, and has a second already-popular project in the Lightpack 2. With nearly half a million dollars already banked for its latest venture, the stakes are just as high — and the company is taking a radically transparent approach to telling its backers how their money is being spent.

In an update for backers today, Woodenshark has said it's one of the first crowdfunding campaigns to "be transparent with its backers" financially, using Frank Money, an app and website that work as a public-facing, transparent ledger of transactions on an account. With Frank, Woodenshark will share the expenses and income that run through its account specifically for the Lightpack 2, letting backers and the general public see exactly where money is being spent — and, in effect, how much money it takes to get a Kickstarter tech project off the ground.

In the last few months, for example, Woodenshark has spent a total of $17,208 on PCB and LED prototyping as well as case design, and ongoing expenses like a Google Fi mobile plan ($32, $42 and $33) and business trips through Uber and Air France. All this money is from the company's own coffers — The $400,000 it is currently set to receive on the completion of the Lightpack 2 campaign in 11 days is still out of reach. Kickstarter takes an 8 per cent commission from any completed crowdfunding, leaving just under $398,000 from the $432,000 already contributed.

Once the campaign is completed, though, Frank will serve as a ledger for all Woodenshark's ongoing expenses during the creation of Lightpack 2 — everything from further prototyping to larger-scale manufacturing, quality assurance, warehousing and shipping costs — for backers to view. It's a great idea considering the often-murky state of Kickstarter finance, and it's the kind of thing that might convince more people to back similarly transparent campaigns in the future.

As an example of transparency, it's possible to look through all of Frank Money's own finances from the past year, even outside of any specific campaign the company ran. The guys behind Lightpack aren't going quite as far — Woodenshark told backers that while "we have other projects and bank accounts... financial transparency is granted only for Lightpack 2 funding we’ll receive from Kickstarter, the money you’ve trusted us with by supporting this campaign." [Kickstarter / Frank]

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